Suffused with gratitude for the privilege of working with Stanley over these six years, my mind has been crowding with all I’d like to honor in him: his intrepid grace, his profound quality of attention, his extraordinary capacity for listening, his curiosity, his talent for renewal, his sense of play, on and on. Where to start?

But now, a “traffic entrance,” to borrow a recent Stanleylocution.

Since waking this morning, the word scout has been nudging me insistently. Like so many of the words I’ve been using in talking about Stanley all week––daredevil stunts, gamble, gambol, nimble, wrangler––this word belongs to a lexicon of risk, pointing to Stanley’s endowment with what Yeats called “radical innocence.” Whatever he encountered, he approached as new.

Scout. Something in that initial consonant cluster wanted resolution; suddenly I was curious to trace its origins. And indeed, what I found draws together so much of what I’ve been trying to express. The word comes from the Latin auscultare,“to listen,” maintaining that meaning through Old French escouter (now, of course,
Originally Published: June 23rd, 2006
Related Content
  1. July 12, 2007
     Jo Valenti (Mrs)

    Thank you for this marvelous testimony.

    I'm a former teacher of English , here in France, and to my great shame, I'd never heard about Stanley Kunitz. My friend Judy gave me his last book as a (62nd) birthday gift.

    Before opening the book, I'd already fallen for the man, (OH! The wonderful pictures of Stanley : as is often the case with old people, his lovely face was a proper landscape ) only to learn, that he'd died in 2006. And you know what? I cried...and I wanted to hear his voice, AND I heard it, reading his poem "The layers" for an interview. I can't tell you the impact the book had on me : I've fallen desperately, hopelessly and totally in love with Stanley. His acute observation of nature went straight to my heart. What an enormously loveable person he must have been! As a garden lover, I particularly appreciated the relations he established between gardening & poetry.

    I'll close now, hoping I haven't bored you; there was so much more I wanted to say. Lucky you, for having shared a part of your life with such a man! Some "instants in the wind"

  2. September 12, 2008
     Jill Dearman

    what a beautiful homage to a great poet and person. reading this made me re-commit to the act of listening as an act of kindness. thank you!